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Important Medicare Dates to Print, Save, and Remember

Important Medicare Dates to Print, Save, and Remember

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There are so many Medicare dates and enrollment windows – it’s hard to keep track of them all. This important Medicare dates compilation is as much help to our team as it will be to you!

From Medicare dates unique to you to recurring windows of opportunity, here’s your complete guide to important Medicare deadlines and dates.

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One-Time Enrollment Periods

Initial Enrollment Period (IEP)

7-month window: Three months before, the month of, and three months after your 65th birthday

During this 7-month window unique to your 65th birthday, you can enroll in Medicare Parts A, B, and D for the first time. If you have other credible coverage, such as an employer group plan if you’re still working, you don’t have to sign up for Medicare yet.

Special note: If your birthday is on the 1st, Medicare treats it as if your birthday happened the month prior. For example, if your birthday is February 1st, Medicare treats it as if your birthday was in January. Your whole 7-month window would shift back a month.

Initial Coverage Election Period (ICEP)

7-month window, beginning three months before your Part B coverage takes effect

For most people, your ICEP is the same window of time as your IEP. However, if you join Medicare after age 65, your ICEP will begin three months before your Part B coverage takes effect. You can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D drug plan during this time.  

Medigap Open Enrollment Period

6-month window: Begins the month you turn 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B

During this 6-month window, you can buy any Medigap policy (also known as Medicare Supplement) sold in your state without having to answer any health questions. After this enrollment period, you will have to go through medical underwriting and risk being declined if you have health problems.

Enrolling in Medicare After Working Past Age 65

8-month window: Begins the month after your employment ends or the month after your group health plan insurance based on your current employment ends

During this 8-month special enrollment period, you can sign up for Part A and/or Part B of Medicare without any late enrollment period.  

One-Time “Change Your Mind” Opportunities

Trial Right

12-month period after dropping a Medigap policy to join a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time

If you had a Medigap policy and dropped it to join a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, you have 12 months to change your mind and switch back to your prior Medigap policy (if the same insurance company still sells it). If your former Medigap policy isn’t available, you can buy a Plan D or G sold by any insurance company in your state.  

5-Star Enrollment Period

December 8-November 30 of the following year

If a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Part D drug plan, or Medicare Cost plan with a 5-star rating is available in your area, you can use this window of time to switch from your current plan to that 5-star plan. You can only use this 5-star enrollment period once in your lifetime. Note: 5-star plans are identified with this icon on Medicare.gov:

Medicare Dates to Remember

Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) Mailing

Sometime during September

If you have a Medicare Part D drug plan or any type of Medicare Advantage plan, you’ll receive your ANOC in September. Private plans are required to send you this letter, which outlines any changes they’ve made to your plan, which would go into effect on January 1 of the following year.

Next Year’s Part D and Medicare Advantage Plans Announced

October 1

Medicare Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans for the next year are announced on October 1st. You can’t enroll in a plan until the Annual Enrollment Period, which starts on October 15, but you can start comparing your choices.

The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)

October 15-December 7

You can make changes to your Medicare Part D drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan during this window of time in the fall. Outside of special circumstances and turning 65, this is the only time of year you’re allowed to switch or enroll in a drug plan or Medicare Advantage plan.

Coverage Begins from AEP Enrollments

January 1

If you signed up for a Medicare Part D drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan during AEP, your coverage will begin on January 1st.

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA OEP)

January 1-March 31

If you have a Medicare Advantage, you’re allowed to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan or go back to Original Medicare.

General Enrollment Period (GEP)

January 1-March 31

If you missed signing up for Medicare for the first time, you can sign up for Medicare Part B during this window of time. The Medicare Part B premium penalty will apply, and coverage would begin July 1st.

Drug Plan Enrollment After GEP

April 1-June 30

If you enroll in Part B during the GEP, you can sign up for a Medicare Part D drug plan between April 1-June 30.

Coverage Begins from GEP Enrollments

July 1

If you signed up for Medicare during the General Enrollment Period, your coverage will start on July 1. Remember: you may have to pay the Part B late enrollment penalty.

Turning 65 Medicare Deadlines Example

Here's a visual example of what your Medicare enrollment deadlines would be if you turned 65 on May 15th.

Conclusion

If you’re 3-6 months away from turning 65, it’s a critical time to get in touch with us! Our licensed, local agents will help you make important decisions about your Medicare coverage.

If you miss your first enrollment periods surrounding your 65th birthday, you may face premium penalties for life. We can ensure you don’t miss any deadlines, so don’t hesitate to put your next appointment on our calendar! You can that online or by calling our office at 217-423-8000.

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Book time right on our agents' calendars using our online scheduling system.

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